Although parents, students and teachers pushed for changes to the Mansfield school district’s policy to add protection language for the LGBTQ community, the school board voted unanimously not to add specific wording to the policy.
The 7-0 vote on Tuesday came after the school board received written comments from parents and others who spoke in favor of and also against adding the words, “sexual orientation, gender equality and gender identity” to the nondiscrimination policy.
The vote also came a week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a split 6-3 decision that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, also applies to gay and transgender workers.
Board member Desiree Thomas made the motion and said, “Having considered the Supreme Court decision last week, the board committee finds the policy already contains the wording approved in the Supreme Court decision prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And therefore does not believe that further amendments of the policy are needed to prohibit such discrimination.”
However, Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager for the Resource Center, an LGBTQ Plus advocacy organization, disagreed with the board’s decision.
“I am furious. This was a study in political cowardice, starting with the superintendent on down,” said McDonnell in an email to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“The district could have implemented the language and used the Supreme Court ruling for support. Instead, they took the easy way out by denying the reality of LGBTQ lives. This is an abject failure of leadership by everyone who cast a vote at that meeting,” McDonnell said.
Board member Darrell Sneed read a statement from the committee that studied whether the protection language should be added to the school district’s policy. He said the committee determined that the current wording was sufficient and that it offered protections for the LGBTQ community.
Trustees also heard from parents, employees and others who emailed their comments about the proposed changes to the district’s nondiscrimination policy.
Karen Robinson, a parent in the Mansfield district, urged the trustees to adopt a policy with the protection language stating that it would be an “extreme failure” not to make changes.
She pointed out that Mansfield did not follow the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling until the district was desegregated in 1965.
“If we do not add language to the Mansfield policy in light of decision of another Supreme Court case, Mansfield would once again be on the wrong side of history,” she said.
But several parents also weighed in saying that the LGBTQ protections go against the district’s conservative values.
Rachel Love, another parent, said, “My children were raised in a Christian home. Our belief is that a man should marry a female and not the same sex. I strongly disagree with the adoption of LGBT policy, and I pray and hope the school board will take my concerns under consideration.”